Saturday, September 4, 2010

That there's a club

Ah, the elusive clubbed hoof, the one thing it's almost impossible to find decent information about on the internet. Since both of my horses have one I'm very interested in finding out how, if at all, having a clubbed hoof will affect their long term soundness.
Coriander's left fore
The accepted cause of clubbed hooves is shortened tendons along the back of the limb. They pull the heel off the ground, causing the coffin bone to rotate down, thus creating that steep angle at the front of the hoof. What makes that happen? Genetics has a factor (especially in the case of my half-siblings), not allowing foals an adequate amount of movement may also cause it, some injuries may also lead to developing a clubbed hoof.
Coriander's right fore
How do you treat a clubbed hoof? According to the latest AQHA Journal, if the foot is really bad you can get a check ligament surgery to lengthen the tendons at the back of the leg. They also suggest  orthopedic shoeing, including the use of wedge pads to try to balance the hoof angles.
Gwen's left fore
All I can say is I'm choosing none of the above for treatment. I trim their feet according to what each hoof  needs and so far both of my horses have been perfectly sound on their clubbed hooves (except for the odd twig sticking out of their frog) so I see no reason to take drastic measures that could likely cause lameness.
Gwen's right fore

It does affect my future performance plans for them though. For instance, I will never ask Coriander to jump. I feel that the angle of his hoof is too extreme for that kind of high impact activity. But what about Gwen? She's already proven her affinity for jumping and her clubbed hoof isn't nearly as extreme as her brother's. Would she stay sound doing some low-level hunter/jumper work?

I've been looking on the internet for months trying to get info on clubbed hooves in jumping horses and haven't had much luck. I have found out that a couple famous racehorses have had a clubbed hoof, triple crown winner Assault was one. But racing impact and jumping impact aren't really the same thing (or are they?). Does anyone have experience with this you could share with me?

Coriander front view

Gwen front view
See how their flares are growing out? I'm so excited about that. Improvement is happening!


  1. I have never seen a club foot. Interesting. Excellent idea to trim their feet to help with their balance, etc. Their feet are looking really good!

  2. Hmmm I have never dealt with it before so I don't know anything sorry. Rachael over at Dapple of My Eye has some insight however. Have you seen her posts on Granite's "special fin'?

  3. Noble had a tendency to club a bit on one front foot. I think surgery and wedge shoeing aren't very good ideas - they're messing with the horse's personal anatomy. Some horses might need special shoeing if they can't walk well without it, but that's an extreme case. If the horse is sound, I'd be inclined to leave it alone (obviously making sure that the trimming doesn't make things worse), and avoid things (like jumping as you point out) that could put excessive strain on the leg.

  4. Thanks Wolfie! Their feet do look good.

    Golden- I haven't checked out her blog, I'll go visit now and check it out. Thanks for the tip.

    Kate- exactly, from what I've been able to read online, most horses with clubbed hooves are perfectly sound with prudent care. No high impact work and no messing around with their hoof angles.